2015 in review

January 1, 2016 at 2:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 670 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Book Review: _No True Way_ edited by Mercedes Lackey

April 21, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The stories about the Heralds and Companions of Valdemar have been entertaining many fans for a long time. Not only are there novels set in this fantasy world, but several anthologies have been published over the years. _No True Way_ edited by Mercedes Lackey is the eighth Valdemar anthology to be published. The stories in the anthologies have grown from just tales about Heralds and Companions. In this latest anthology, stories explore other people’s lives in the world of Valdemar. The stories range from pleasant to serious, with interesting characters in each of the tales.

“Written in the Wind” by Jennifer Brozek is a dark story that will give readers the creeps. Twin brother and sister are chosen by Companions on their tenth birthday Milla and Orun tell their Companions of the two possible paths their lives might take. On their journey to the city of Haven, the children are pursued by evil creatures trying to kill them. The story is a tense, suspenseful tale of survival with and unusual , surprising ending. Brozek provides a different aspect of Valdemar.

Mercedes Lackey contributes a new story to the anthology with “Vixen.” This is a story about the healer called Vixen dealing with some past emotional baggage as she travels her circuit. A Companion brings her to a small village to help the Herald Mage Vanyel. While helping Vanyel, they must save the people from a giant, ravenous monster. They receive help from an unusual quarter. The story resolves with a satisfying climax. Fans of Vanyel will enjoy his part in the story.

In “A Wake of Vultures” by Elisabeth Waters, Lena must help solve a problem using her gift of animal Mindspeech. While traveling with a Herald, she comes across a group of vultures that won’t leave a dead human body. The body does not show any signs of decomposition. The vultures won’t leave or let anyone get near the body. A witch shows up, claiming the body as her son. Together, they must find a way to break the spell or more people will die. This is a clever, interesting story in the anthology.

_No True Way_ edited by Mercedes Lackey is another entertaining anthology set in Valdemar. Readers will enjoy the stories of different people in this fantasy world. The stories will not disappoint fans who love this author’s books.

2014 in review

December 30, 2014 at 2:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 13 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

On Writing Fantasy: Keeping a Reading Journal

December 19, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The digital age and Internet provides tons of information for people all over the world. To process this information, reading is still a necessary skill to possess since there is plenty of text to sift through every day. People who want to be writers need to read for their chosen art.

Reading is an important part of a writer’s skills set. From reading various things, a writer gains ideas, knowledge and inspiration for their endeavors. Also, reading is a major component of research for projects. Therefore, it is necessary for a writer to keep a reading journal for many reasons. Keeping a reading journal is helpful for writers on two levels. First, a journal helps improve a writer’s craft through analyzing and study of other author’s works. Next, writers need to be readers in order to keep filling the creative well. A journal helps the reader to remember books, how they affected them and to keep information for possible later use. A journal is helpful for research where notes can be stores to be used in a book or story.

Where does a person start? It is easy. You can use a bound fancy journal, notebook or keep a file with entries on a computer. You can find nice journal at http://gonereading.com I like this journal for my fiction reading (http://www.sfbc.com/book-lovers-journal.html) because it’s small and compact. I use a notebook for nonfiction.

Information you will want in your journals in case you don’t use a ty0pe of journal like above follow.

Things to include for fiction:

• Date read, title, author, genre, etc.
• Quotes with page numbers
• Take notes while reading.
• Record what the author did like point of view, etc.
• Thought on how book affected you.

Things to include for nonfiction:

-Bibliographical information
-Synopsis of book or article
-Quotes and notes
-Personal thoughts on information

Some other articles to check out:

-http://www.joelgoldman.com/keep-reading-journal/
-http://kaizenreading.com/how-to-keep-a-reading-journal/
-http://kaizenreading.com/9-reasons-to-keep-a-reading-journal/

Reading journals for fiction and nonfiction are important for writers to keep. Journals can help with creativity, research for writing projects, provide ideas and improve a writer’s skills. Reading is an important part of being a writer. With so much information in the world available, keeping track of the information in a journal is helpful. Happy journal writing. May it help your writing.

An Apology

May 25, 2014 at 1:02 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m posting this to apologize for not keeping up with my blog this month. Life events put a wrench in my plans. I suffered from a bout of bursitis which put my right arm out of commission with pain for a week. When that got better I ended up with a backache. That took out another week. Finally, I caught a cold. I’m better now so hope to get back on track. There will be be articles on the blog soon.

 

Apologies

December 24, 2013 at 1:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m sorry for not keeping up with the blog this month. Had a sudden family emergency. My elderly mother had a slight heart attack and had to be hospitalized for a while. She is home and okay now. I plan to get back on the blog soon. Thank you for your understanding.

Best wishes,

Debbie

PS. Happy Holidays to everyone! May the gifts of fantasy and wonder be yours!

William Hope Hodgson

December 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A short lived life left a trace of brilliance in the Fantasy genre. William Hope Hodgson only wrote four books and a number of short stories in his writing career, but left some memorable works. He is a classic Fantasy author from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. His works are mostly Dark Fantasy and supernatural fiction of ghosts and monsters. Part of his inspiration came from early in his life.

As a boy, Hodgson was fascinated by the sea. He ran away from home once to serve on a ship and later became a sailor on merchant ships. During his career, he would photograph the ocean’s different moods. Later, he realized that he hated the sea and after a few different jobs turned to writing around 1904. He would always consider the sea as a terrible horror and it showed in his writing. Throughout his career, he wrote four books, two which are Dark Fantasy.

_The House on the Borderland_ was published in 1908. It is about a house on the coast of Galway. This house stands on the edge of a great pit from which pig-like creatures threatens the protagonist. From there, he travels into the distant future and watches the destruction of our solar system. The book is full of evocative images of darkness and cosmic horror.

His other book of Dark Fantasy was _The Night Land_. Published in 1912, it takes place on a dying world where the land is always night. The characters move across this dark landscape fighting monsters in a quest for redemption. This book is considered by some to be Hodgson’s most creative work. It has powerful themes and interesting ideas for the time it was written.

For his other two novels, Hodgson drew from his experiences of the sea. Both books have elements of the supernatural in them. _The Boats of “Glen Carrig”_ is a tale of survivors at sea encountering creatures in a strange place of seaweed. _The Ghost Pirates_ is about a ship that is super imposed on by a ghostly ship.

William Hope Hodgson left a small body of work with his four novels and numerous short stories. He created works with incredible images, different ideas and powerful themes. Using his life experiences of the sea, he brought to life stories that will be remembered by those who read his works. Tragically he died in battle at the age of forty while serving in World War I. Who knows what other imaginative works he might have contributed to the Fantasy genre? It is a loss for us readers.

Book Review: _Magic Rises_ by Ilona Andrews

September 27, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Kate Daniel’s faces another harrowing situation in her life as she faced dangerous enemies while trying to protect her loved ones. _Magic Rises_ is the latest addition to this urban fantasy series written by Ilona Andrews, a husband and wife writing team. Each book in the series presents a new aspect of the world changed by magic and how the characters are affected by the changes. This book is an entertaining read due to the setting, plot and characters.

The setting of the book gives the story an edge. In this book, the characters must travel to Europe in an area near the Black Sea. Magic has changed this region drastically, leaving a dangerous landscape of vast forests, desolate mountains and wild terrain. There is a feudal atmosphere with a castle as the main focal point. The setting provides a dark, scary tone for the plot to play out.

Next, the plot weaves in the new setting for a change of pace. The children of shapeshifters face the danger of going insane when they first change as teenagers. These children need a special drug to survive or must be killed without it. The drug is made and controlled by Packs in Europe. Kate, Curran and a group of shapeshifters travel to Europe on a job in order to get a supply of the drug to save some of the Pack children. They are supposed to protect a pregnant shapeshifter until she gives birth to her twins in order to settle a territorial dispute. Kate discovers that her father’s second in command is there, which increases the danger for her mate and friends. All these plots culminate into a final battle for survival. The action of the plot helps the characters to grow.

Growth in characters the book and series exciting. Kate, the main character, goes through several crises that make her stronger and resolve emotional issues. By facing a dangerous foe and settling a romance problem, she changes a little to be a better person. Curran, the Pack leader, changes by growing to understand his relationship with Kate better. Most of the secondary character grow too since they face death and survival. The author creates likable human characters for readers to continue wanting to read the series.

_Magic Rises_ by Ilona Andrews is an exciting, suspenseful addition the the Kate Daniel’s series. The author’s use of setting, plot and characters blend together to provide readers with a suspenseful action story. this book has growth in characters, which keeps readers coming back to the series. These entertaining books leave a reader wanting more.

Book Review: _Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit_ by Mercedes Lackey

August 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Many fantasy authors write a novel about King Arthur tackling some aspect of the story and providing new ways of seeing the story for readers. Mercedes Lackey does this with her Arthurian fantasy book _Gwenhwyfar: the White Spirit_. Ms. Lackey shows readers the King Arthur story through the eyes of one memorable woman character. The book is a vivid story told through the setting, plot and main character.

The setting of the book is Britain after the Romans have left. Saxons have invaded the land which creates battles between the natives and invaders. There are several different kingdoms ruled by their own royal families all under the High King Arthur. Magic is part of the fabric of life with women’s magic under the ladies of the cauldron well and men’s magic under the druids. People are wary and frightened of the creatures of Annwynn (fairy), knowing they can’t be trusted. Ms. Lackey brings the setting to life with realistic descriptions of this magical ancient Britain.

Next, the author uses the story of King Arthur to drive the plot of the book. Ms. Lackey uses some information she came across in doing research for this book to add a new twist to the Aurhurian story. The plot revolves around the women in the king’s life as the main character Gwenhwyfar is drawn into the story. Magic, war and betrayal add to the adventure and action that keeps readers hooked into the story until the end.

Finally, following the character of Gwenhwyfar through her life as she grows makes the book memorable. Broken into three parts, princess, warrior and queen, readers watch Gwenhwyfar as she grows into a strong woman warrior with a formidable sense of duty and honor. She plays a major role in the King Arthur legend that offers a twist with a new perspective on the events of the story. Ms. Lackey’s deft touch on characterization makes Gwenhwyfar realistic and memorable.

_Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit_  by Mercedes Lackey is an excellent addition to Arthurian fantasy. The author takes an interesting piece of information from her reserach to tell the remarkable story of a woman in Celtlic Arthurian Britain through the setting, plot and main character. Readers will enjoy this vivid, entertaining story of Gwenhwyfar and the role she plays in the legend of King Arthur.

Review: _The World Tree_ by Sarah Isidore

July 22, 2013 at 12:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Charlemagne was a powerful Christian king of long ago. His reign spawned many legends and myths of heroes. Fantasy author Sarah Isidore uses the time of this Frankish king with the conflict between Christianity and paganism to conclude her “Daughters of Bast” trilogy. _The World Tree_ blends Celtic and Egyptian mythology to bring this Historical Fantasy trilogy to an entertaining, satisfying end. The book’s realistic characters, intriguing plot and vivid setting brings it to life with action that is hard to put down.

Realistic characters are important in books to keep a reader interested. The characters of this book act in realistic ways for their times. Sirona changes and grows throughout the novel. She begins as a healer, denying to use her magical powers even at the request of the goddess Bast. Pressure from hostile Christians and her own people make her change into a warrior with a conscience. Bathilde is a widow and noble woman trying to protect her land from an encroaching Lord. She possesses magic of her own, which drives her to some ruthless acts. Mau is a cat, protector and advisor to Sirona. He states his opinions clearly without and sugar coating. The author brings these characters to life through subtle changes as the plot advances to the end.

The plot is intriguing, keeping a reader hooked. A clash between paganism and Christianity plays in the background to the story of Sirona’s growth. Sirona refuses to kill Bathilde’s unborn baby. Her refusal plunges her into a series of attempts on her life. She struggles to maintain her life of being a healer and uninvolved, but events do not allow it. The hatred of a Christian noble adds more fuel to the flame with his ambition to steal other people’s lands. Magic appears in this ancient world, manifested by gods of Egypt, Norse and Celtic mythology. The manipulation of these deities deepens the plot and adds wonder to the story to keep you reading.

Finally, the vivid setting brings the story to life. Ms. Isidore writes descriptively in plain prose. The descriptions of Saxony, with its forests, manors and monasteries, come to life as if they exist today. Descriptions of the supernatural elements like the great World Tree and Chaos serpent give a sense of wonder to the story. Having a clear setting in a book allows a reader to get drawn in and enjoy the story without confusion. This book fulfills the requirement with its setting.

_The World Tree_ by Sarah Isidore is a satisfying conclusion to the “Daughters of Bast” trilogy. Realistic characters, an intriguing plot and vivid setting provides this Celtic Egyptian Historical Fantasy with enough action for an entertaining read. Ms. Isidore tells the stories of three remarkable women in three different harsh but interesting historical time periods. Readers will enjoy this concluding book. Seek out the other two books too.

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